It's been a long three-year wait for Westside craft beer fans as Central Coast favorite Firestone Walker navigated permit purgatory to build out and open its new Venice campus. This week, the wait is (sort of) finally over.
Though the former Sizzler on the corner of Lincoln and Washington boulevards will not have the planned pilot brewery installed when it soft-opens for dinner starting April 6, the Propagator, as the location is being called, will serve as restaurant, lounge and barrel cellar for an entirely new line of rustic ales.
“The whole point of the Propagator is not to duplicate things going on in Paso Robles or Buellton but rather to meet a specific creative need,” brewmaster Matt Brynildson said in a statement. “This rustic ale program is one such idea.”
Rustic ales is a catch-all term for barrel-aged, mostly farmhouse ales brewed and fermented in the old-world beer traditions. Currently, Firestone Walker's year-round clean beers (like the ones you see in cans and six-packs) are made at the brewery's main facility in Paso Robles, while a separate sour-beer program is housed inside a barrel room an hour and a half away in Buellton.
Because of cross-contamination potential at both facilities, moving rustic ale experiments to the Propagator is a nice solution that ensures L.A. still gets its own locally crafted Firestone Walker beers, while the company's owners work to secure the necessary brewing permits.
“We hit many walls in the permitting process,” owner Adam Firestone said in the statement. “Some proved impenetrable, so we made the decision to open before the brewhouse was fully operational.”
In addition to the rustic ales (which is already under way with the recent arrival of some used Firestone Union oak barrels), the Propagator will be very similar to Firestone Walker's two other family-friendly Taproom restaurants, which serve a mix of globally inspired small dishes, shareables, tacos, pizzas and large plates. Daily lunch service is anticipated to begin in May.
3205 Washington Blvd., Venice; firestonebeer.com/visit/venice.php.